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Inexplicable ridges on Mars

Inexplicable ridges on Mars
Click for full image.

Don’t ask me to explain the geology on today’s cool image, rotated, cropped and reduced above. Taken by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on August 16, 2019, the image’s uncaptioned website merely calls these “Convergent and Overlapping Narrow Curved Ridges.”

I don’t know why the sand in the hollows appears light blue, or even if it is sand. I don’t know what created the ridges, or why they seem to overlap each other randomly, or why they seem to peter out to the south.

I am sure there are planetary scientists out there who have theories that might explain these features. I also know that they would forgive me if I remained skeptical of those theories. This geology is a puzzle.

Hellas Basin, the basement of Mars

The location of these ridges is in the southeast corner of Hellas Basin, which I like to call the basement of Mars as it is the equivalent of the United States’ Death Valley, having the lowest relative elevation on the planet. As I have noted previously, the geology in this basin can be very strange. To my eye it often invokes a feeling that we are looking at Mars’s “uttermost foundation of stone” (to quote Tolkien), frozen lava that flowed in many ways and then froze in strange patterns.

Or not. Your guess is as good as mine.


Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Edward_2

    How about sending a Helium balloon to float in the Martian sky and send pictures of the land back to Earth?

    Also would a propeller drive drone be able to fly in the thin Martian atmosphere?

  • Edward_2: A helium balloon would likely not be practical because of the thinness of the atmosphere. I can’t do the math, but my off the cuff guess would be that even if it could float it couldn’t carry the weight of any instruments.

    As for a drone, the next rover, Mars2020, due to launch in July, will be taking with it a test helicopter to see if this concept can work. Should be exciting.

  • Max

    I believe that mars atmosphere is too thin for a helicopter, It did not perform great in the vacuum chamber, I’m hoping to be surprised. It will use power quickly for short trips. Keeping enough power in reserve to return to land on the rover for recharge will be the true test, one mistake and the rover will be required to retrieve it with the robotic arm and place it on the charger.
    This is the best option for looking into the pits on the surface to locate a suitable habitat for future colonist.

    For a helium balloon, thin lightweight solar panels and optical sensors are now available. Mylar material for a large helium balloon will easily lift a cell phone size data package.
    To make a balloon viable, two systems need to be made lighter. A helium compressor that drops the balloon for closer viewing during the day after releasing helium into the balloon for lift during the cold of night to avoid dragging on the ground.
    And a light weight energy storage battery/capacitor.
    Recent tesla innovations clams they’re developing a battery that will power one of their cars for 1,000,000 miles.

    The future for light weight, fast charging, Energy density 2 to 5 times more than lithium, safety from exploding, unlimited charging, works in extreme cold, is heading towards the solid-state battery. In every way, perfect for Mars. 15min

    There will soon be no reason not to send a package to Mars that will inflate dozens or more helium balloons to drift aimlessly across the surface uploading their pictures, temperature, wind speed to overhead satellites. Until a high altitude dust storm static charge obscures the hundreds of fish eye cameras, the paper thin solar panels, and weighs the balloon down to drag on the ground to eventually become just a remote weather station until the solar panels fail. Perhaps an anti- static charge material will prevent this until solar UV degrades and oxidizes the materials which eventually happens to everything. Then it’s lifespan will be limited only by its supply of helium that replaces what leaks.

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